ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The 2017 World Baseball Classic will take away some of the St. Louis Cardinals top players from Spring Training for nearly the entire month of March. You’ll recognize some of the names for teams like USA, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, but the Cardinals will also be represented by some relatively unknown talents playing for Italy, Israel and Canada too.
On March 6-22, 16 international baseball teams will compete in multiple round-robin tournaments, narrowing the field to a single-elimination championship tournament between the top four teams.
Games will take place across the globe, in the US, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and Australia, with the championship set to take place in Los Angeles.
Don’t be surprised when you don’t see a few of St. Louis’ top players on the field for Spring Training in March. Here are the 10 players set to represent their respective country:
Matt Carpenter, infielder- Update: Matt Carpenter Withdraws From Team USA. His versatility will help him see the field for the Stars and Stripes. The USA squad is stacked with MLB All Stars at every infield position, and Carpenter looks to be the No. 2 on the depth chart at first base, behind Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Barring injuries, there is almost no chance of seeing him at second base, with Ian Kinsler and Daniel Murphy on the roster. But he could see some starts at third, as a more contact-focused option in the lineup. Although young bomber Nolan Arenado and another All Star in Eric Hosmer will probably take the starts at third.
**Brett Cecil, pitcher- If the Americans feel the need to bring in some lefty help in the bullpen from its Designated Pool Players list, then Cecil will likely be the No. 1 option. But where the US team really needs help is its starting rotation, since Max Scherzer of Washington will sit out due to a fractured finger and Sonny Gray of Oakland declined to participate because he denied insurance coverage for the games.
Corey Baker, pitcher- The 27-year-old right hander isn’t found on lists of St. Louis’ top prospects. He split his time in 2016 from AA Springfield to AAA Memphis.
**Ryan Sherriff, pitcher- A 26-year-old lefty specialist was the most consistent member of the Memphis Redbirds bullpen in 2016. His 2.84 ERA was the lowest among pitchers who threw at least 35 innings, according to MLB.com stats.
Both players were born and raised in the US, Baker in New York and Sherriff in California. However, per WBC rules, any player who would be eligible for citizenship of a country may play on that country’s team. Many jewish-central reporters are saying this will be the most talented team Israel has ever fielded.
Seung Hwan Oh, pitcher- He will be the Korea’s only representative from MLB. Oh saved 19 games for the Cardinals, after taking over the closer role in mid July.
Korea could have fielded Texas Ranger outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, Baltimore Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim and Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang on the roster, but they will not participate this year.
Rowan Wick, pitcher- The Canadian-born righty was promoted to AA Springfield in June, last season. As the closer for Palm Beach, he recorded a save in six of his eight opportunities, then was called up and fit into a setup role for Springfield. Wick also got his first taste of Spring Training baseball with the Cardinals this year.
Carlos Martinez, pitcher- There will be no vacancy of flair on the bump for DR this year. Martinez will work at the top of the rotation with starters Johnny Cueto of the the San Francisco Giants and Edinson Volquez of the Miami Marlins.
The Cardinals were suppose to have two powerful arms in the DR rotation, with Martinez and highly ranked prospect Alex Reyes. But Reyes’ necessary Tommy John Surgery has set them back.
Alberto Rosario, catcher– He played in his first major league game in 2016, as a July call up with St. Louis. The 30-year-old stands a good chance of making a start in at least one game, when DR can afford to give Orioles catcher Welington Castillo a break.
Trey Nielsen, pitcher- For a pitching staff led by minor leaguers, Nielsen should get at least one start for Italy in the opening round of the WBC. His highlight of 2016 was a call up to AAA Memphis where he got a win, allowing only one run through five innings.
Another name to lookout for on team Italy is St. Louis-born pitcher Tom Layne. The 32-year-old attended Fort Zumwalt South High School, and is now in the New York Yankees organization.
Yadier Molina, catcher- The seven-time All Star and Platinum Glove award winner is one of the elder statesman that will lead some young stars for Puerto Rico. He and Houston Astros outfielder Carlos Beltran will lead a trio of rising infielders, Carlos Correa of Houston, Javier Baez of Chicago and Francisco Lindor of Cleveland.
**Designated Pool Players
Every WBC team has a list of 10 pitchers who make up the designated pitcher pool (DPP). Teams can start the tournament with two DPP players on its active roster, with the option to replace those players with one of the eight others. But that replacement can only happen at the beginning of a round. Two Cardinals are on this list, with Cecil for USA and Sherriff for Israel.